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RNC8 --A Conversation With One of the Attorneys

Category: RNC
Posted: 01/15/09 17:40

by Dave Mindeman

When I posted about my conversation with County Attorney Susan Gaertner, one of the RNC8 attorneys posted a comment. I contacted him and he agreed to a brief conversation about the trial and other RNC matters.

We talked about the "gag order" that never was. Apparently, he said that the original judge appointed to the case had stated that he would prefer that everyone involved should please refrain from public comment. However, he never made it an offical order. The federal prosecutors had urged that a gag order be issued, but interestingly enough, County Attorney Susan Gaertner argued against it (maybe for political reasons?). The original judge has since recused himself for personal reasons and a new judge has not been appointed. Thus no restriction on public comment is in place.

Regarding the Heffelfinger-Luger report. This attorney said.."The city was simply paying for public relations to cover themselves."
He chuckled at the idea of this being an "independent commission". He said it was run by former federal prosecutors and although other members named to the commission would seem to be independent types, the report is clearly written from the prosecutors point of view.

This attorney had nothing good to say about Sheriff Fletcher. He noted that one of Fletcher's press aides had been involved in a corruption conviction prior to the RNC. Publicity regarding that was washed over by the upcoming convention. Earlier, Fletcher had been the target of a free speech suit that was settled for $750,000 in which some deputies who opposed his election were allegedly retaliated against by being passed over regarding department promotions and other retributions.

Fletcher runs things with an iron fist and nobody that deals with the Sheriff's department has much good to say.

This attorney's client was actually not involved with the original RNC charges. After investigation of the leadership of the RNC Welcoming Committee, his client was charged as part of the "conspiracy". He also pointed out that he is skeptical of County Attorney Gaertner's claim that she was compelled to file the terrorism charges regardless of her discretion, since one of the two terrorism charges came after her protested fundraiser.

This attorney also complained about the vagueness of the Minnesota Patriot Act and its broad authority. He noted that the civil liberties community didn't pay as much attention to this act as it should have and blames Rich Stanek (currently Hennepin County Sheriff, but a MN legislator in 2002) for its ultimate passage.

Finally, out of curiousity, I asked him about the claims that "urine" was confiscated from the apartment searches. He also indicates that he has never seen any concrete evidence that this exists. No one has confirmed or denied its existence. (It will probably continue as an "urban legend" until the trial actually begins.)

As for the trial itself....we do not have a judge. We do not have a court date. This could go get moved into next year.

I don't think Susan Gaertner wants that....not at all.
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Sheriff Fletcher -- Has He Gone Rogue?

Category: RNC
Posted: 01/14/09 21:41, Edited: 01/14/09 21:42

by Dave Mindeman

Here is a paragraph from a Pioneer Press story about Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher that almost leaves me speechless:

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher can keep a secret. He kept a $300,000 probe of groups planning to agitate the Republican National Convention secret from the people whose permission he needed to spend the money, it was revealed Tuesday.

What?!?!

It gets worse....

On Tuesday, Fletcher said publicly it cost his department $305,000 to pay overtime or temporary salaries to nine investigators to travel around the country tracking and infiltrating the groups, which included self-described anarchists. The team, which worked alongside at least one St. Paul cop as well as FBI agents, also tallied $15,000 in travel expenses.

You have to wonder how a County Sheriff decides to spend over a quarter million dollars to send some of his people on "secret spy" missions in preparation for the RNC.

Let's think about this a minute.

Here is a sheriff who bypasses council authority to, on his own initiative, spend a large sum of money, to track and infiltrate groups whose only crime is that they are loudly critical of authority and openly discuss confrontational techniques.

Now, if you consider how far Fletcher committed himself (in secret) to a rather dubious endeaver..... is it possible that Fletcher had to ramp up tactics at the RNC to simply justify his covert actions?

I think that's a fair question....and it scares the hell out of me that Fletcher thinks he can do this.

Looks like we have a rogue law enforcement department,,,,and furthur investigation of this whole timeline is needed.

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Revisiting the RNC

Category: RNC
Posted: 01/13/09 14:35, Edited: 01/13/09 14:38

by Dave Mindeman

When I had a sit down talk with Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner last week, it brought me back to a revisitation of the Republican National Convention. Over the past few days, I have tried to catch up with some of the under publicized aspects of what has been happening with the legal machinery of it all. And let's just say it hasn't been pretty.

Tomorrow, the Heffelfinger-Luger report is due to be presented. It will be interesting to note what it says and what the public reaction will be. How deep into law enforcement tactics will the report take us? Nobody knows.

There are a lot of unanswered questions which lends itself to speculation. So, here I go....just between you and me -- here are my questions and speculation.

To me, Susan Gaertner seems like someone who has been forced into a corner. During her talk with me, she wanted to leave the impression that her discretionary powers to charge a case were somehow limited regarding the RNC-8. Just about everyone I talk to doesn't believe that....but is it possible that other forces are at work?

We have a highly controversial FBI informant involved in the case and some are saying that he had been pushing RNC protesters into more controversial actions. And there were layers upon layers of law enforcement involved with the RNC which seemed to be looking for things that just weren't there.

Some of the felony charges involved here would require that there be proof that there was an attempt to shut down the Republican National Convention. Can you imagine that? Groups of rag-tag young people angry about their government would somehow be able to shut down a venue backed by a multitude of city, state, and Federal layers of law enforcement backed by $50 million in security funding?

Really?

I remember visiting the streets of St. Paul during the first day of the RNC. In my part of the city, the police were using remarkable restraint. Protesters were blocking traffic but attempts to simply reroute the vehicles was the preferred method. But later in the day and on subsequent days, something clearly changed. More force and shows of force were ordered and things began to get out of hand. Full street sweeps...pepper spray...tear gas. It just didn't fit with this usually peaceful city.

What was even more troubling were the pre-emptive raids. You have to wonder if Federal influence pushed the locals into rules that would, under normal circumstances, never even be thought of. The wiretapping.... the informants.... the website monitoring.

For that first week in September, we were in the lockdown world of a true police state.

Of course, there is no question that some people came to the Twin Cities clearly wanting to make trouble. But were there actually enough of them to shut down the Convention? To warrant police being primed to a hair trigger?

It truly boggles the mind.

I don't know where the RNC-8 trials will lead. But I do hope that we get to the truth. I don't want to hear about inadmissible classified evidence. I don't want documents blocked for "security reasons".

Just because there is a charge of "terrorism" in a case, doesn't mean "terrorism" actually occurred. So don't go there....just give us the facts. Please.
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